“Hearing about DofE is great but what does it entail? What skills do you develop and why should you develop them? What do you do and why?” – a citizen who wished only to be known as Sarah.

Firstly DofE stands for the Duke of Edinburgh award and can be awarded in three distinctions (gold, silver and bronze).

It also has four main sections (except gold which has five): Volunteering (where you have to spend at least an hour a week volunteering in order to help your community), Physical (where you must spend an hour a week doing a sport), Skill (where you must spend an hour a week developing a skill) and finally the Expedition with each distinction having different set periods in which you complete the activities.

The scheme was first started in 1956 by Prince Philip (with his inspiring former headmaster Kurt Hahn) and was initially to introduce young men to new interests and fill them with a sense of self-confidence.

Now, almost 7 decades later, it has evolved and has over 570,000 people working toward their respective awards, with roughly 3,541,707 hours given in volunteering by young people saving their communities an estimated £17,035,611 (in between April 2022 – March 2023.

This combined with the fact that roughly 30% of 14 year olds have started their bronze DofE and it is offered in 75% of state schools in the UK means that it is enmeshed in the fabric of young people’s lives in Britain.

The fact that it helps young people develop survival/ navigation skills, as well as coordination, teamwork, preparation, communication and endurance is shown nowhere more clearly as in the Expedition, which involves camping out in the countryside and travelling through the day.

One group I interviewed went with their school on the silver DofE practise expedition (2 nights & 2 days) for 39km through the Chilterns.
The groups set up their camps on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon only to pack up in a matter of a few hour on Saturday and Sunday morning respectively in order to hike the 22.7 km on the first day and the 17km on the next day before finishing in a small town after which they went home.

As Freya Lundskaer-Nielsen put it “I really enjoyed the practice expedition- it was a great chance for me to develop the skills I will need for my expedition such as endurance and navigation, in beautiful Chilterns landscape.”

Although there were apparently some discrepancies with the equipment involving a faulty compass and the trail (“the incredibly deep mud and multitudinous thorns and nettles” as well as some hail) overall the group was extremely positive about the DofE and their hike through the Chiltern hills as opposed to the “Cambridge flat landscape”.